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Protecting Yourself Against Scams

Brittney Monteith | January 28, 2022

There are so many scams in our world today, it’s oftentimes hard to determine what actually is legitimate and what is just someone trying to trick you into giving them money. 

If you watch the news, there’s almost always a new scam or two every week, and you always wonder how the victims fell for it.  Believe it or not, scammers are getting even more savvy to trick you into giving them your information or money. 

The first place to start is the FTC’s website.  They keep a running list of any recent and more popular scams that are going around.  From Social Security, Phone, Phishing and Unemployment scams, you can easily weed out the legitimate from the scam. 

But how do you protect yourself against scams?  First, we always say if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  Meaning, did you receive a check in the mail or call about winning a lottery in a state you’ve never been to?  Probably a scam.  Did you get a phone call from someone you’ve never heard from saying you owe backed taxes and you need to pay right away with an iTunes gift card?  Defiantly a scam.

What are some signs that a scam’s found you?  The FTC has an easy way to do a quick check they like to call the 4 P’s and they are:

  1. Pretend– the scammer will pretend to be from an organization or company.  Whether it’s a legitimate organization that they’re pretending to be from or a made up one, they’ll try to get you to believe that it’s legitimate. 
  2. Problem or Prize– you’ll be notified that you owe backed taxes, some sort of bill is overdue, a family member is in trouble or that you’ve won a sweepstakes, lottery or some other major award. 
  3. Pressure– you need to get this taken care of ASAP.  If a family member is in trouble, you owe backed taxes or you need to get a bill paid and it has to be done NOW before the police come to arrest you.  They’ll use short time deadlines so you’re worried about getting them their money and not think about anything else. 
  4. Pay– a scammer will tell you that you need to pay in a specific way, often gift cards that you’ll be instructed to give them the number and security code, or a money transfer service, like Western Union.  Keep in mind, once you send the gift card numbers or Western Union, those funds are gone and you can’t get them back. 

How can you protect yourself from a scam?  Run through the 4 P’s, ask yourself how they contacted you.  Remember, the IRS or other government agencies will never contact you via phone, they’ll send a letter.  If you receive a letter, direct message on social media or an email, read it carefully.  Look at the grammar and spelling, are there tons of mistakes, typos and misspellings?  Check the email address, does it match the signature on the email, is the domain a real one or is it from a random gmail account. If you’ve never contacted this person on social media, or aren’t friends/connected with them, why are they messaging you?  All of those should be red flags that this is probably a scam. 

If you want to stay a step ahead of any fraud, make sure to sign up for Benefits Plus and activate the Ultimate ID membership that is included. You’ll get notifications if any changes happen to your credit report, dark web monitoring, 3 bureau credit monitoring and so much more. 

Remember- we’re here to help.  If you have any questions or aren’t sure about something you received in the mail, reach out.  We’re happy to help keep your information safe!